What's your violin's story?

Edited: May 10, 2020, 9:06 PM · A recent post in the violin identification thread about a history of one's violin got me wondering. How many Vcommers have a violin with an interesting history that has been passed down, or can be passed down in the future, that they would like to share with the rest of us? Theses days I need a good story! :)

Replies (30)

May 8, 2020, 4:25 PM · This is a great question!

Of the numerous violins I own, there is one particularly special and unique instrument. One made by my grandfather, the only one made. My Grandfather was studying woodwork at the local college in the UK, and one of my aunts played the violin. So as the final project he decided to make a violin. It is a really cheerful yellow varnish, nicely flamed, and in all honesty, does not sound that bad. I paid to have a really nice set up done on it, and it was really worth it! I do think he could have been an excellent violin maker had the world been kinder to him.
I am the current custodian, as I do play. This instrument will be passed down to the next violinist in the family, not as a main instrument, but as a beautiful, special family keepsake. I would love for it to be my main instrument, but for now, it works as a wonderful folk and trad instrument.
I have affectionately named this violin Ron.

Edited: May 9, 2020, 3:12 PM · I have two violins. One is a Jay Haide bought new in 2003 as my #2 violin for lessons, practice, and folk music, with some orchestral playing, but I'm now seriously considering using it as my main symphony violin, the more I get to know it. Its tone is coming out well with Warchal Amber strings, and its playability has always been good.

My #1 violin, which I'm using for my symphony and chamber orchestral playing is by Anonymous – which means I don't believe its label ;) – but certainly dates back to the 18th century, as attested by at least two luthiers who have worked on it since it has been in my possession. It is particular good for chamber music when gut-strung.

Violin #1 has an interesting history, having been in my family for 170 years. Starting the story in WW1, my mother inherited it from her g-grandfather, and started having lessons in 1919 from a semi-retired concert violinist who had a good reputation as a teacher. This gentleman, when he saw his new pupil's violin, and played it, offered to buy it for £100, which was a lot of money in 1919. My grandparents refused the offer because it was an important family heirloom, and my grandfather, a business man, would have reckoned the violin would have cost a lot more in a shop. The matter did not go any further and violin lessons continued. Now, was the teacher's offer indeed ethical?

I now turn the clock back to 1850, when #1 violin enters the family. It was bought at that time by my mother's g-grandfather from an Irishman he met in the port of Haverfordwest, Wales, which had important trading links with Ireland at the time. I don't know the circumstances surrounding the purchase, or indeed how much cash changed hands, but it is worth knowing that Ireland was being ravaged at that time by a dreadful Famine, so it was not unknown for Irish people to flee from Ireland to the British mainland in order to survive, and perhaps raise money by selling a possession or two. Our Irishman selling a violin may very well have been such a person.

What concerns me is, was that Irishman indeed the rightful owner of the violin? It seems to me that a violinist, possibly a professional, with a good instrument fleeing to another country in the mid-19th century would have been the last person to part with something that was part of his life and a prime means of making a living. I don't suppose, 170 years on, that we'll ever know the truth of the matter. But it is a fine violin and, if I have anything to do with it, will remain in the family for a few more generations (my daughter and one of my granddaughters play violin).

[I've moved this post, with one or two minor textual changes, from the "Violin Identification" thread over to this discussion as being far more suitable. Many thanks Rebecca for starting up this thread!]

Edited: May 8, 2020, 6:53 PM · I think the most interesting part of my violin's history is the fact that the maker, Samuel Shen, was evicted from his apartment for leaving his works out to dry all over the building. His neighbours complained of the smell. Now I think he runs a factory in China where they make Del Gesu copies.
May 8, 2020, 7:04 PM · My present violin is a 2006 Topa, so it doesn't really have a lot of history. My previous violin was a 1972 Claude Watson. Watson was known as a part-time guitar-maker, and when he retired from his day job (whatever that was, some kind of white-collar work in San Diego), he took up violin making. Mine is No. 24. The violin is awful -- it was overbuilt -- but beautiful to look at (birds-eye with bright orange varnish).
May 8, 2020, 11:52 PM · My previous violin's previous owner had purchased it from Frank Passa's shop in San Francisco. It still had one of Frank Passa's bridges on it when I purchased it. I encountered his daughter on a Facebook violin group. It was kind of cool that she remembered that particular instrument!

Edited: May 9, 2020, 1:28 AM · My current favourite violin that I've only had for a year cost rather little at an auction sale. It has a label dated 1809 from the retailer who first sold it at an address in St Paul's Churchyard London, one of the historic centres of English violin-making. So my violin was made in the midst of the Napoleonic wars and middle-period Beethoven!

It has a second, more recent label naming the maker as Charles Harris whose signature is apparently inside. Frustratingly, through my endoscope I can only find the words "Made by" and "London"! Charles Harris was a maker of some repute who taught William Ebsworth Hill, the effective founder of the Hill dynasty. The label was placed by another good English violin maker, George Wulme Hudson, who repaired the violin in 1930 and left his invoice and his bridge.

After about 1810 the two Charles Harrises, father and son, moved from London to the Oxford area near where I live. In the 1830's the younger Charles Harris inherited a small village estate from a cousin and started giving himself some airs, becoming known to his peers as "Lord Harris". But he did a lot to develop the village, including building a Manor House which still stands and has the initials "CH" and the date carved on the pediment. Unfortunately he overreached himself, soon became bankrupt and went back to violin-making!

Edited: May 9, 2020, 8:17 AM · Steve, Charles Harris may indeed have been entitled to call himself "Lord Harris" if he became "Lord of the Manor" when he inherited the estate, if it was a manorial estate.

"Ebsworth" is interesting. My maternal grandfather's name was Frederick Ebsworth Coles, and at one time the names Ebsworth and Coles were hyphenated. I believe his family came from Wiltshire, but the surname “Ebsworth” apparently originated in Devon.

My maternal grandmother's family was solidly Welsh, based in Haverfordwest going back to at least the 18th century. Haverfordwest was where my #1 violin entered the family, as related in my previous post.

May 9, 2020, 7:59 AM · Trevor, that is so interesting about your violin's history! I think it makes sense that it could have been owned by the Irish professional fleeing even if it was his means of income, because people were hungry enough to do anything! What a treasure you have to pass on to your daughter.

I'm the first owner of my violin, and there isn't much history behind it...yet.

May 9, 2020, 10:37 AM · Trevor - Harris's mates were being sarcastic! There was no hereditary title and the "Manor House" he had built looks more like a workhouse. But within the village (Steeple Aston) there's still a Harrisville (in fact just a row of cottages) and a Harris Stores.

Sounds like the name "Ebsworth" could be worth investigating further. I expect someone has written a history of W.E.Hill & Sons

May 9, 2020, 10:57 AM · No fancy history on my violins. Just my own history of how I acquired them. I have 4 violins, I will mention 3 that has a personal history:

Jay Haide - This is a violin that I’ve had since high school that I bought with my own money. It was the early 90s, and I used my parents’ business connections to peddle my computer skills during the summer breaks. I was writing codes to make it easier for them to do their spreadsheets. I also helped them setup and configure their computers. Business was so good that by the end of one summer, I had enough money to buy myself a violin and more. I went to Ifshin Violins with my Dad and bought my violin. I remember the folks there being kind and helpful to me. I used to go to their Berkley shop a lot. Ifshin’s is also where I brought my kids to rent their 1/4 sized violin to get them started.

Leandro Bisiach - After my parents learned that I got accepted to all 3 colleges that I was wanting to go, they bought the Leandro Bisiach to inspire (or bribe? lol) me. The stipulation was once I graduate from my engineering degree, they will gift me the Bisiach. That incentive was what got me through engineering. It was not always easy, and I had to really discipline myself and get rid of the unnecessary distractions that would have caused me to drop out. Soon after graduating, I was handed the Bisiach.

Scott Shu-Kun Cao - This is my second violin that I bought with my own money. I called this violin, “The Red Violin”. It was so red when I first got it. The oil varnish was still very soft. It took about a year for the varnish to cure. Inside the label, I had the opportunity to write my own name, and the violin’s name - “The Red Violin”. Since it has my name inside the label, and in my own handwriting, I thought this would “definitely” be an heirloom violin…lol. In fact, my youngest daughter, who is starting Suzuki Book 3 already has dibs on it…lol.

May 9, 2020, 2:10 PM · Not a violin but a bow.

I was told never ever purchase anything of this sort over craigslist.

So, I found one by Francois Malo from someone in NYC.

Sent money; that person hand-delivered it.

It's a great bow but I got lucky.

Don't do this.

Edited: May 9, 2020, 4:26 PM · I'll share my story once again.

I fell in love with the violin way back in Jr. High - asked my parents to support learning the instrument and the answer was NO. I put the dream behind me until,...

One Saturday morning shortly after our marriage I was asked to go into the attic to get some yarn for my new Mother-in-Law. Her description of the box and location was vague so I had to crawl around a lot checking box after box, and there, behind the box with the yarn was a violin case. I brought that down along with the yarn.

The violin belonged to her grandfather who had brought it from Sweden in the late 1800's when he emigrated to the USA, started a family, played his violin in church, at family gatherings, and eventually it wound up in the attic. With her permission (amidst a lot of tears) I found a teacher willing to start an adult, got the instrument restored and over 40 years later I'm still playing the instrument despite having been told many times to "get a better instrument."

My goals were, and still are, very modest. I wanted to learn how to play the melody or descant line of hymns, I got into a community orchestra for some time till my work took me on the road 80% of the time.

Eventually, I retired from Bell Labs where I was a Supply Chain Subject Matter Expert - I had time to play regularly. My wooden friend and I make music together almost daily now and we love all kinds of music (as do my wife and the cats).

While in Bell Labs I realized that I have a talent for teaching and when a neighbor's son asked for violin lessons I took him as a student using Doflein (the method I learned) and word-of-mouth got me more students who, like I was back in the 1950's, are in families that cannot afford private lessons.

I've already made arrangements with a professional violinist friend to take the instrument when I can no longer play and make sure it lives on being played by students of limited means but strong desire to play because there are no heirs left in my wife's family.

He isn't "Joe's Violin" (https://www.joesviolin.com/) but it is a legacy. He has a long life ahead - around 13 decades old - he's just a teenager with many years of music in his future. For now, he's just my musical partner and we sing together almost every day just enjoying the making of music and passing along the skills and passion to the next generation.

May 9, 2020, 6:01 PM · I have several fiddles.

My first violin is Actually my dad’s. It was made by M.Mušic in Zagreb at the end of ww2. It’s a nice looking bright yellow instrument, but has a weak and thin sound. It has a rather thin neck and a carved face of G. Guarneri instead of the scroll. The inside label states it was made in honor of 200th anniversary of G. Guarneri. Unfortunately It’s just a bad instrument.

My second violin was made by Vilim Demšar in Ljubljana in 1991.It was made to order and I am it’s only owner. It’s a standard brown fiddle with a balanced, but subdued sound. With heavy tweaking, ZMT tailpiece and VST set of strings it becomes performance worthy, but A and D strings still do not possess the power and depth of top instruments. The instrument resonates well and blends with anything you throw at ti. It used to be my solo instrument, but now I fitted a realist pickup to it and use it on loud stages and as a backup. Slightly too mellow for solo, work, but very forgiving fiddle.

My current violin is apparently a german trade Instrument (by this forum’s reckoning). It looks quite old and extensively used. Double purfling and elaborate designs of the back suggest a Magini copy, but the label says Da Salo in it. The previous owner, who used to be a concertmaster in the Wiesbaden theatre orchestra was under the impression it was the real deal (Gasparo da Salo). I bought it from him and had to have the (badly fixed) cracks to the top repaired by J.Šobar in Ljubljana. He had to carve a new bass bar and bridge. The violin was given to pervious owner by his uncle somewhere around 1952.
Previous owner told me, that he had to use tiny gauge strings for him not to overpower the section.
He also told me Yehudi Menuhin approached him in the early 70’ after a concert and offered to purchase the instrument for a (then quite a s large sum)of 50.000 £., because the instrument “sang like an orchestra” and said he could not get it’s sound out of his head during the performance.
As much as I would like the fiddle to have a “better provenance”, it’s apparently just like any German workshop instrument you can buy for 1000$. But I guess - you can not buy the sound loke this one has.

Edited: May 9, 2020, 9:02 PM · Two instruments, a modern American viola (but still older than me) and a mid-20th-century German workshop violin. As might be fairly common among American string players, it's the less valuable instrument that is the family heirloom.

The viola, made in 1979, is an outstanding instrument for the levels I play at (high level amateur). No trouble projecting over an orchestra in principal viola solos despite being smaller than average, chamber music partners have remarked on its tone, and the luthier I went to for maintenance for 10 years called it one of the most responsive violas she had ever handled. Very much a soloist's or section leader's instrument. But I don't know a whole lot about its history, apart from having looked up the maker (mostly a violin maker, his total non-violin output was just three violas) and having heard that it was played by a Hollywood studio musician for a long time. It's the only string instrument I've ever bought, because the viola I used before that was on loan from my undergraduate alma mater while I was a student there. I bought it to reward myself for getting into medical school, thinking whatever I spent on it was peanuts compared to the debt I was already taking on and the income I would most likely earn no matter what specialty I went into. (I didn't finish medical school, but my student debt was paid off in full when I won a tort settlement that also allowed me to subsequently go to law school and graduate debt-free.) In any case, my viola has certainly motivated me to continue writing its history. It's already been with me through a lot both in music and in life, and it's been important to me to make my playing ability worthy of the instrument in my hands.

My violin is more ordinary in origin, but I know its entire history because my great-uncle purchased it brand-new. It's a no-name German Strad copy that was made in the early 1950s (actual date not on the label) and purchased by my great-uncle in 1954. For the most part, my family is not musical at all. My great-uncle was an avid amateur violinist but was the only musician of any kind in his family for most of his life, and when he died in the late 1970s his violin went to the only other musician in the family, his nephew (my uncle) who played the guitar and had the idea he might try to learn the violin. My uncle never got around to taking violin lessons and the violin sat on a shelf in his house for 20 years. Then I came into the picture. In 8th grade I heard an orchestra live for the first time, with the Walton viola concerto on the program, and I wanted to learn the viola -- and even though I was certainly big enough to start directly on viola by that age, I started on violin because that violin was available to me for free. My uncle brought it over the next time he visited from Taiwan, and it's been mine ever since. That's still the violin I use on the rare occasions that I play violin. Apart from a current wolf note that is probably the result of not having been seen by a luthier in over a decade, it's quite good, very playable all the way up the fingerboard. It's just in need of a soundpost adjustment whenever violin shops are able to re-open, and possibly a new bridge as I think I'm starting to see early signs of bridge warping.

May 9, 2020, 9:34 PM · My favorite violin was made in my home town in Aug. 1943 by James R. Carlisle.

It is the 'Leduc' Guarneri model with a handmade label with the thumbprint. It is numbered 1142, made in Cincinnati and is one of his bench models. I don't think it was played much because it was in such good condition when I acquired it. It is has a deep red, sunshine varnish and is the most responsive violin I've owned.

Edited: May 10, 2020, 3:31 AM · When I lived on the isle of Eigg in the Hebrides of Scotland, a fiddle maker used to visit over the summer and I would play violin with his wife, while he sat and carved a scroll. His wife would give each violin a name and this was beautifully drawn in ink, inside, before construction. I couldn't possibly afford to buy one of his instruments at that time, but many years later, remembering him, I wrote a letter requesting a violin. I chose one that he had available but still couldn't afford the whole price so he allowed me to pay in three parts. Amazingly he trusted me enough to send the violin in a hand made wooden packing case, and it safely arrived, over 30yrs ago Duncan and his wife have passed away, but the 'The Strath Bran' is still singing.......
Edited: May 10, 2020, 5:30 PM · Both my instruments (violin and viola) had to wait for me about ten years until finally I circumnavigated the inhospitabilities of life and allowed myself to make a childhood dream come true. I cannot tell stories about family heirlooms or spectacular pedigree, but definitively a story of love and rousing passion.
I really like Janice's story, and I think there's something special about an instrument built by someone we know in person, and not only as customers. So I'm especially happy to use an instrument made by a dear friend.

My violin was made in Markneukirchen in the 1960ies by a then reputable luthier, and all I could learn about her history is that she had been with a conservatory professor for a longer period before she had to sit in my luthiers shelf for maybe ten years, for cosmetical reasons as I guess. And despite her (few but obvious and irreparable) cosmetical issues and the afterthought of cold cigarettes that still escaped the wood, she immediately caught my heart when I met her back then, only three months after I started to learn the violin at age 39. I was barely capable of playing an acceptable two octaves scale, there were plenty of instruments I preferred by look, I didn't like the smell, and this one (as well as many others I've tried then and ever since) was well out of my budget and a completely unreasonable purchase for a bloody beginner, but within a minute it was clear that she was the one. I had her on trial and returned her, scolding myself an unresponsible fool, couldn't resist and had her on trial again but returned her, with the firm decision that I had to learn to play (and judge) first before I would spend such an amount of money, but couldn't forget her. So I had her on trial again for a whole summer while several others came and went, and then I made her mine... A couple of years and bows later and after maybe a meter of etudes and repertoire we've been through together, she's still my perfect match and makes me happy every time I touch her. The smell is gone, and I've learned to love her small imperfections like we do with our human partners. Probably she will not be my last one, but I cannot imagine to ever let her go - still in love like a teenager...

With my viola it's somehow different. I fell in love with the instrument itself on March 24, 2017. Amazing Bryony Gibson Cornish (viola) and Gamal Khamis (piano) took part in the free lunchtime recitals series in St. James's at Piccadilly. I happened to be in town, having to meet an appointment nearby, and went there randomly without any idea and expectations, when Schumann's Märchenbilder heavily hit my solar plexus. I then had a 39 cm student instrument on rent for a year but barely touched it - this just wasn't the real thing. I tried several instruments during this time, waiting for something similar to happen as it had happened earlier with my violin, but it just didn't. Dead C, nasal D and A, good sounding but unplayable tennis racket sized monsters, comfortable and even sounding, responsive instruments but with the acoustic charme of a tin can. I went through the whole spectrum and had it all, learning the hard way that obviously it's quite tricky to find a good viola. The market is much smaller and these beasts seem to be impossible to build. Finally I chose the best option I had, an instrument built by my friend and luthier himself ten years back which he never sold, and since he sat on it for such a long time (and probably because he felt pity for me) I got my viola for an exceptionally good price, I'm the first and only owner. The sound is gorgeous, rich and warm and modulable, the C string a dream and so comforting, and there aren't many things on earth more satisfying than making this beauty sing, but for almost two years it was an on off relationship and even a bit of a hate love, since my physiognomy simply refused to adapt to this piece of wood. During the last two Covid19-months I made myself a super low chin rest, got a Korfker rest set to an extreme position, and had the strings narrowed. Now it is almost what I ever wanted, except that the neck could be some huge 2 millimeters narrowed, but I just cannot decide for such an invasive and mutilating procedure. She's just too beautiful as she is, and I already feel too much for her... There are plans about another (additional) viola, but yet this is rather a sentimental story and unlaid eggs... This being said, there is always good use for another great viola!

And now, being in charge of these two beauties, I hope I will be able to give them down the line to their next custodians when my time has come. I would love to do this in person, to know them well and beloved and in good hands.

Besides these, there is an ongoing and everlasting attic violin restoration project, an okayish sounding but explicit tasteless looking flea market viola I bought for cheap as a trashy office instrument but gave on permanent loan to a friend in need, and a silent violin for nighttime practice. And bows. Lots of bows. With a number still growing...

May 11, 2020, 12:06 PM · My daughter’s young violin is all about connections to people and places. As a junior in high school, she reached out to Kelvin Scott for a violin. He had nothing on hand, but he had access to a fiddle whose owner was leaving the profession. She eventually purchased it through Mr. Scott, who told us that the previous owner had used it in grad school with a very well-known teacher who had really liked the violin. We also realized he was a (formerly) prolific violinist.com contributor. She subsequently did her undergrad in Tennessee about 2.5 hours away from the fiddle’s Knoxville birthplace – I like to think it engineered the homecoming. Several years later, she went off to grad school (where she is now), and she's studying with the same teacher who taught the previous owner. Coincidence? I think not.
May 11, 2020, 12:11 PM · One of my 2 violins was made by the Lethbridge Alberta Luthier and fiddle player Ed Dietrich. At one time, Ed played with the back up band for the Canadian singing duo Ian and Sylvia. He was so taken with the violin played by the duo's regular player that he borrowed it and copied it. The original instrument was from Craig's violins in Aberdeen, Scotland. This copy is the one that I own, just because it bears my mother's maiden name of Craig. While not my orchestra violin, it is a very nice fiddle.
May 11, 2020, 3:49 PM · I have only been playing violin for a year, though I have played guitar and tenor banjo for a long, long time. My violin is Hungarian and at twelve hundred and fifty quid didn’t cost much compared to some of the instruments on here, a lot of money for me, but it’s good enough.The luthier however who sold it to me and lives up the road in Liverpool Michael Phoenix can tell a great tale however, if you ever go into his shop ask him about his holiday in Egypt, he’s a typical scouser very funny and can spin a yarn about anything.
May 11, 2020, 4:02 PM · I posted this ten years back in a similar thread.

My violin has the distinction of never having been paid for.

There's a shop (or used to be) in Liverpool called Rushworth and Dreaper and they used to make their own instruments. Top of the range was their "Ardaton" violin. The guy who I believe to have been their chief maker made one for a friend of his

"For Arnold Cowell Esq as a token of esteem and friendship

George Hemmings Liverpool June 1933"

When Arnold (I never knew anything about him) stopped playing, the instrument was given to my Dad's uncle, and then when he in turn finished his playing days, he passed it on to me. This was the instrument I had from the age of about 15 and through 12 years of full-time professional playing.

Edited: May 11, 2020, 9:56 PM · The family heirloom violin came with a story, or a myth. It was a Maginni copy with double purfling, an inlaid picture of an old town on the back, a bearded old man for a scroll, a Latin inscription around the side, and a peacock on the tailpiece. It was supposedly taken from a captured Confederate soldier during the 1864 Red River campaign by my great-great grandfather, who was the principal musician (sergeant-major band leader) of a regiment from Indiana. The truth was that it was not a good violin, probably a late 19th German factory copy. It was too lightly constructed, had a brittle sound, and one day the neck block collapsed. I gave it to my nephew who did a D.I.Y. repair. Soldiers on the march will travel as lightly and compactly as possible. They will not add a violin and case to their back-pack, but you will see occasional photos of fiddles in permanent camps, between campaigns.
Edited: May 11, 2020, 9:13 PM · I have several older fiddles with potentially interesting backgrounds, but my oldest viola is the one for which I stand the best chance of filling in some blanks. Two American luthiers who've worked on it say that it's almost certainly a German trade instrument made sometime between 1910 and 1920. The only legible label in it is from an S. Kadosov in Sverdlovsk (transliterated from the Cyrillic). I haven't been able to find out anything about him. The year on the label is either 1957 or 1987; I can't quite tell. The instrument is about 40.5cm on the back, rather shallower than I would have expected, and has undergone several repairs plus one apparent modification. It feels and sounds much better than it has any right to.

I've been severely tempted to contact the previous owner and ask what he knows about its background.

Holy shinola, there's actually a photo online showing it with its previous owner! I think the RNO have made some changes to their site, because I don't recall having seen this before.

May 11, 2020, 8:33 PM · For Malcolm Turner - The maker for Rushworth and Dreaper may have been Richmond Henry Bird. I am soon to receive his #57 (1913) on trial from a dealer. I'd be interested in whatever additional details you might offer about your instrument. A private message is OK if you don't think it would be of general interest.
May 12, 2020, 4:12 PM · The special violin I have the pleasure of playing on and owning has a short back-story. A new luthier had opened up a shop in our city without us knowing about and a friend asked if we knew anything about him. We didn't know anything, so I brought in an inexpensive bow for him to rehair. He had a small retail office but his workshop is back at his house. I looked around at the violins and noticed one fancy looking one but didn't give it another thought.

My wife and I had been discussing how I needed a better violin than the old German one that I was playing on at the time. My wife started playing on this special violin and it sounded really beautiful. What makes it so special is that there is a "Celtic Tree of Life" burned into the top.

This particular luthier is mainly doing restorations, buying what he feels will be worthwhile instruments if fixed up and set up properly. He had bought an old German import from the 1920s (probably factory made, fake Stradivarius label on it but at least the label says "Made in Germany.") He repaired some cracks and he got it to a certain point of restoration, leaving the top unvarnished because he knew a woman who does "pyrography" which is the burning of images into wood.

He wanted to see how it would work on a violin, so he had her burn the Celtic Tree of Life into the top of the violin. Then when he got it back he used a very light-colored varnish on the top, got some very nice matching pegs and tailpiece and chinrest and set it up very nicely. It really sang when my wife played it. We asked him how much he wanted for it, more for information that my wife wanted to be able to pass along to some of her students. We weren't thinking about buying that violin at that time. He gave us a price and told us he would do a little better for us if we wanted to buy it. We thanked him and went home with my rehaired bow.

The next couple of days that violin was all either I or my wife could think about. On Saturday my wife said to me "I've been thinking about that violin." I said, "Gee that's funny, I've been thinking about it too, and I think we should buy it." My wife said "I'll fight you for it!" I said, "You're on!" It's definitely not in the same league as the much more expensive violin my wife plays on professionally but it sounds very sweet and my wife was thinkng about it possibly as her teaching violin. So I contacted him and asked him not to sell it until we had a chance to come back in and play it again. This time my wife played it and I played it, comparing it to the violin I was using at the time. My wife, bless her heart, when she heard me playing it and doing an A/B test with my current violin, said "Well honey, there's your new violin." I fell in love with that violin and we bought it.

Here is a link to pictures of it:

It still sounds better when my wife plays it, since I'm not much of a violinist, but it is so much fun to play! I've had it now for 6 months and hardly a day goes by that I don't play it. And if a day does go by and I don't play it, I really miss it.

Whether it is the pyrography on the top or the different varnish, but this violin has a sweet tone and it resonates very nicely. My wife noticed that at some point in its history someone had remove the finger board and had carved underneath the end of it, where it hangs over the belly of the violin. She thinks that may have something to do with the strong but sweet tone of the instrument. Whatever the cause, it's an instrument that will be passed down through our family or passed along to a worthy young violinist when I have died.

May 12, 2020, 7:06 PM · David, I saw the pictures of the tree of life violin, and it looks really amazing! I have never seen anything like it.
May 13, 2020, 5:01 AM · Thanks -- I feel really special every time I play it.
May 13, 2020, 10:10 AM · @David Bailey, that violin looks incredible, truly beautiful no doubt about it, is the fingerboard flat to the body it’s hard to tell from the pictures, have you got any videos of it being played I would love to hear it. I am only a very beginner myself, I play guitar and banjo mostly so I am no expert but I know what I like the look of and that is stunning.
May 14, 2020, 4:49 AM · I don't have any videos of it being played. I'm not good enough to share videos of my playing and my wife doesn't want to be recorded. I'm not sure what you mean by "flat to the body" but I can say that it has the normal angle following the neck and there is about 2cm of height above the belly of the violin at the end of the neck. The neck does not touch the top of the violin at all contrary to the way a guitar's neck is attached to the top of the guitar.
May 19, 2020, 12:44 PM · Not interesting but here it is. I bought my violin and bow from the woman I carpooled with in college when I was 18 in late 1983. It was the violin she played in high school. She had gotten a new violin for college. The violin was brought in white (unvarnished) to Reeve Violins in Longmont CO. I believe the violin came from Germany. Reeve's put on a gorgeous honey colored varnish. The bow has no name but is really quite good. For a higher end student model, the violin sounds good and works well. It will play all the repertoire well. I have only ever run into one instrument in a similar price range that I would consider trading it for. (One of my students bought that violin.) And I have to jump several price levels before I find instruments I like better.

What is a bit strange is that both my violin and viola were made in 1976.

My viola was made in Salt Lake City by Christopher de Groote. I am not sure if it was made while he was attending the violin making school there or later. I have heard that his later instruments use a different varnish. I have never been fond of the varnish on it but love the sound and the feel of the instrument. It was on consignment at a violin shop in Denver. I don't know any of its other history. It was my Christmas, birthday, and high school graduation gift. It was a long search for me to find an instrument I wanted and was in the price range. Most had either a good lower or a good higher register but not both. I have had it since early 1983. I am still very, very grateful to my parents for this gift.

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